Financing Basics

There are several ways to finance a private school education, learn more about your options here. We'll explore some of the most expensive schools, explain why tuition is rising and show you how it's all paid for.
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You have just paid $45,000 for a year's tuition and fees at St. Sedgewick's. You are all set, right? Not exactly. What happens if your child suddenly takes sick before the end of the school year? What if circumstances beyond your control force you to withdraw her from school in March? What if he is expelled? In brief, you are obligated for the entire year's tuition and fees regardless of whether your child completes the year or not.
 
What Are My Options?
The only remedy you have is to sign up for the school's refund plan. It typically acts like insurance in the event that your child withdraws before end of year.  The insurance plan will pay for the unused/remaining portion of your child's time at the school. You contracted to pay for an entire year when you signed the contract with the school at the time she was accepted. You do not want to be out of pocket. Neither does the school. This is why tuition refund insurance is an important part of your planning for a private school education. Tuition refund policies are in place at every private school regardless of whether it is day or boarding, large or small, elementary/nursery school or high school.

St. Mary's policy is the sort of thing you can expect at most schools:

"To minimize the loss to a family due to early departure or change in boarding status, Saint Mary’s School has established a Refund Plan. Under . . .read more
Over the past two decades private schools have developed very generous financial aid programs. This has happened for a variety of reasons. But the most compelling reason is that private schools want to diversify their student bodies. They want to attract academically well-qualified applicants whose families simply cannot afford the enormous expense of sending their children to private school. Generous financial aid programs are one way of helping schools achieve that goal.
 
Here's how Exeter describes why it offers the very generous financial aid it does:
 
"Socioeconomic diversity has been a characteristic of Phillips Exeter Academy from our founding. It's built into our ethic—to attract and teach 'youth from every quarter'—and it's crucial to the nature of our community and our classrooms." 
 
St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire expresses its commitment to financial aid as follows:
 
"We are committed to making St. Paul’s an affordable option for families.
 
To honor this commitment we will:
 
  • Consider a household income of $80,000 per year or less as qualifying for full financial aid.
  • Families with an annual income of less than $200,000 will not pay more than 10% of their income toward tuition per year." 
 
Deerfield Academy outlines its full-need grants as follows:
 
In 2012-2013 over 28% of our financial aid recipients received full-need grants. These full-need grants include 98% or more of tuition coverage as well as other forms of assistance. These can include coverage for laptop and schoolbook purchases, travel allowances, stipends . . .read more
Some people can write a check for a year's tuition and never miss it. But with private school tuitions running into the $30's for day school and getting close to $50,000 for boarding school, the rest of us have to be creative.
 
Here are some options for paying for a private school education.

 

  • Pay the fees in two installments.
  • Sign up with a tuition payment service and pay monthly installments.
  • Borrow the funds you need.
  • Apply for financial aid.
  • Investigate other funding sources.

 


Pay the fees in two instalments.
   
Private schools generally render their bills in early summer and late fall for payment within 30 days. These invoices will include one half of the academic year's tuition charge as well as incidentals. Incidentals include fees for items such as as technology, sports, activities, laundry, and so on. Be sure to ask whether the school offers a cash discount.
 
Sign up with a tuition payment service and pay monthly installments.

The way these plans work is that you in effect are borrowing from them.  You borrow one year's tuition fees and incidentals. Then you repay in equal installments, generally 10 installments. The plan in turn pays the school on the tuition due dates. This is a good payment option if you need to spread the payments over several months.
 
Note: not all schools accept all these plans. Each school makes its own arrangements with a specific tuition payment service. These firms offer private school tuition payment plans:

 

Starting a new year always brings much excitement as well as a little trepidation. In terms of planning, getting a preview of what you need to take to school with you can help settle nerves. While traditionally, private schools are better stocked in terms of student supplies, it is still customary for students to bring their personal school supplies at the beginning of each school year.

Your school supply list will depend on what grade you are going in and what school you go to. Each school has their own way of doing things. Sometimes, schools will charge a supply fee and provide the student with most everything they need. Sometimes, schools will ask for items that become "communal" property (i.e. computer paper, tissue boxes, and even pencils). More than likely, the private school student will be asked to bring in their personal school supplies which they will use the ensuing year.

The purpose of this article is to give you a preview of what the typical private school supplies list will be like, provide shopping tips and give you our favorite online school supplies shopping sources. Our example supply lists are broken down: one for elementary students and one for high school students. Remember to check with your school for their actual list before you start shopping.
 
Elementary Private School Supplies

At the elementary school level more so than at the high school level, supplies can end up as "communal" in nature, since students tend to . . .read more
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